The first plenary session on the new Dutch pension law ended without agreement, despite running late into the night yesterday. Opposition parties GroenLinks and PvdA are yet to commit to supporting the switch to a defined contribution (DC) pension system.

“It’s a firm demand for PvdA and GroenLinks that the number of people who accrue a pension increases and stops shrinking,” said MP Henk Nijboer, the PvdA spokesperson for pensions.

Nijboer and his GroenLinks colleague Senna Maatoug yesterday proposed three amendments to the law to achieve this.

Most importantly, the pair want the minister to include a binding goal to halve the number of pensionless workers in five years. Additionally, they want to reduce the age when workers start accruing pensions from 21 to 18, and they want to scrap the mandatory waiting time for agency workers to start accruing pensions.

This was recently reduced from 26 weeks to eight weeks, but the two MPs want it gone entirely. 

14 amendments

The first plenary debate on the law on the future of pensions in the Netherlands took place three and a half years after the conclusion of the pensions accord between social partners and the Dutch government, which proposed a switch from a defined benefit (DB) system to two types of DC contracts.

In the meantime, the implementation of the law, originally foreseen to come into force in 2022, has been postponed several times.

Despite the debate continuing until 1.30am on Thursday morning, a final vote on the law, to which more than a dozen amendments were proposed by MPs, is still some way off.

Dutch pension minister Carola Schouten, who remained silent throughout yesterday’s debate, will also be given the opportunity to respond to MPs questions and remarks in a yet-to-be-scheduled new parliamentary session during which a plenary vote may also be held.

Nijboer and Maatoug are ambiguous on the question of whether their amendments should be accepted by the government were they to support the pension law.

“Our demands are firm, but such a comprehensive change of the pension system should not depend on one amendment,” said Nijboer, who added: “The most important thing is that the trend that fewer and fewer people are accruing pensions must be turned. If there are other options to do that than our amendments, we are open to discuss this.”

2022-11-02 22_44_57-Deze week in de Tweede Kamer _ Debat Direct

The Dutch parliament during a late-night suspension of the debate on the new pension law

Pension obligation

In an apparent concession to the two opposition parties, trade unions and employers committed separately yesterday to investigate the possibility of introducing an obligation to accrue pensions for all workers, if the goal of halving the number of pensionless workers in five years is not reached.

While opposition parties PVV and SP, who oppose the switch to DC in general, were receptive of the amendments, the largest coalition parties VVD and D66 were not convinced.

VVD pensions spokesperson Bart Smals said that while he supported the goal of increasing the number of workers accruing pensions, the liberal said the proposed measures in the amendments “are not the solution”.

He added: “I’m very afraid these would lead to a lot of mini pensions which would increase admin costs for providers.”

The latest digital edition of IPE’s magazine is now available